Al Franken interviewed at Salon.com
August 27, 2003 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Al Franken interviewed at Salon.com "O'Reilly went on his radio show and said that the purpose of the lawsuit was to punish me for coming after Fox. So this is the mindset of the right, that they have to punish you. Joe Wilson, the former Gabon ambassador, was sent to Niger by the CIA and came back and said the uranium claims weren't true. And when the controversy started broiling again about the 16 words in the State of the Union address and Wilson wrote the piece in New York Times, senior administration officials blew the cover on his wife, who was a covert [CIA] operative. And it jeopardized the lives not only of her contacts but every American, because she was a covert agent in weapons of mass destruction. And it's a way of intimidating other analysts who might come forward, and there's a parallel here: You will be punished if you come after us. I really think the Wilson thing is the most disgraceful action of any White House since Iran Contra. "
posted by skallas (85 comments total)
 
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posted by skallas at 9:52 AM on August 27, 2003


"They can dish it out, but they can't take it"

Great, politics has been revealed s the 6th grade food fight it is.

*waits paitiently for someone to say "but they started it!*
posted by jonmc at 9:52 AM on August 27, 2003


Ah, the impotent braggadocio of the party of one.
posted by y2karl at 10:04 AM on August 27, 2003


In this section they go over the old mindset that liberal talk radio wouldn't work:

OK, but conventional wisdom has it that liberals are too soft to do Limbaugh-style attack radio -- that the reason there are only conservative talk radio hosts is because only conservatives are capable of it. Do you think that's true? Where does that myth come from, if not?

I think there's the empirical evidence that talk radio is dominated by conservatives, so you could draw the conclusion that liberals can't do it. But I think you can do liberal talk radio, and this is something we should have started doing 10 years ago and we didn't. There have been a few fitful efforts by individuals to do things, that haven't succeeded for one reason or another, but I think you can do it. Liberals have a little bit of a different mindset, in which I think liberals by nature look for information and conservatives look for ammunition. NPR, for example, is just giving information, and NPR's very popular. But conservatives consider it to be liberal because they're not bloviating, they're actually giving information. So I like to think of our progressive network as sort of NPR with more entertainment and fewer reports on Appalachian quilts.


After reading it, the first thought that came to my head was The Daily Show. It's not really talk radio, and not really liberal, but it's entertaining as hell and not at all what you might get from a conservative talk radio or tv show. I could totally see it working on the radio.

So I think Franken is right here, if you wanted to produce an alternative to conservative talk radio, it can be done, as NPR and The Daily Show prove.
posted by mathowie at 10:09 AM on August 27, 2003


Franken was a poor comedian and a worse political commentator.

Uh sorry.........I forgot that in this day and age they are one and the same.
posted by flatlander at 10:13 AM on August 27, 2003


Matt, that passage made me wonder if Al's been listening to Harry Shearer's Le Show, where he's already doing parodies of the "Liberal Talk Radio" idea with Al Gore and Al Franken. Funny stuff, and mocking Franken as soundly as he mocks everybody else.
posted by soyjoy at 10:16 AM on August 27, 2003


>I forgot that in this day and age they are one and the same.

Only for the non-righties it seems.
posted by skallas at 10:16 AM on August 27, 2003


Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them:

1. Al Franken

(Of course, I don't disagree with him about the Wilson debacle. Very disturbing)
posted by pardonyou? at 10:26 AM on August 27, 2003


Nah, for the lefties too.
posted by flatlander at 10:27 AM on August 27, 2003


So I think Franken is right here, if you wanted to produce an alternative to conservative talk radio, it can be done, as NPR and The Daily Show prove.

Putting aside the Daily Show, for a moment, therein lies the rub. NPR is just way too "tasteful" and "sober" to grab most peoples attention, and yes, I'm speaking from my own experience here. At the end of a grueling, dignity robbing workday at Wal-Mart or in a cube the last thing anybody wants to listen too is sober hand-wringing and theorizing on their drive home to the dysfunctional family.

When your pissed off, you wanna hear pissed off people and right-wing radio fills that gap and helps rob the left of natural constituency-the working-to-middle class american. The fact that NPR is right more often than not, is beside the point.

I agree that leftist talk radio in attack mode could be really entertaining and Franken at his best could be a good choice for it. But if they did that, they would be reaching out to the Wal-Mart/Joe Sixpack crowd, which would alienate NPR's current audience, who would rather not be associated with such folk. In fact they define themselves to a large degree as "different" (read: better) than such folk.

I believe that there's a chapter in George Orwell's The Road To Wigan Pier that adresses this very subject.
posted by jonmc at 10:27 AM on August 27, 2003


pardonyou?, too late for this thread, but in the future, reading the link before offering your "original" riposte might save a little embarrassment.
posted by soyjoy at 10:36 AM on August 27, 2003


pardonyou? that's pretty obviously a prank. It doesn't put Franken on the level of Jayson Blair or Sean Hannity. Also he apologizes in the book for using the letterhead, so Franken doesn't deny that he did something wrong. Ann Coulter's never said word one on any of the barefaced lies she was called on, for contrast.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:37 AM on August 27, 2003


The Simpsons, to the extent they dip into political humor, almost always presents fairly centrist but nonetheless liberal satire - and is pretty much the only example of it on Fox.

Skew it a touch more left, make it talk-radio, and you'd have a real hit on your hands.
posted by Ryvar at 10:37 AM on August 27, 2003


When your pissed off, you wanna hear pissed off people

Speak for yourself, typos and all.

When I'm angry, I want to take a few deep breaths and calm myself down, so I might not act in a way I'll later regret.
posted by rocketman at 10:39 AM on August 27, 2003


Jon, you're witty. If you ever make a lurch to the left, you could get a job writing for liberal radio. God knows they're going to need some talent, since the right-wingers have nurtured so much broadcast talent (to my liberal chagrin).

Matt, it sounds like you've been thinking about these issues a lot. What's the status of your campaign 2004 project?
posted by Holden at 10:42 AM on August 27, 2003


Jon, you're witty. If you ever make a lurch to the left, you could get a job writing for liberal radio.

Holden, first of all thanks. And, believe it or not, (I'm gonna sound like oliver willis here) when all is said and done, I still do sit somewhat to the left. I voted for Clinton twice. The last election, I sat out, and I was in Florida, blame me for everything :). I'm just tired of watching the left shoot itself in the foot.

I agree that O'Reilley and Limbaugh are fakes when they claim to be "just average joes" but they talk the talk well enough to convince people.

Did you ever wonder why Clinton won and Gore didn't. Clinton came across as a burger munching skirt chaser from Arkansas, whereas Gore seemed more like a professor or your boss. Yes, it's silly that these things matter, but they do.
posted by jonmc at 10:47 AM on August 27, 2003


From the salon piece:

Bill O'Reilly really made this personal, didn't he? It sounds like he really had it out for you after the Book Expo flare.
Well, I don't want to make this personal ...
But he already did ...
Just because he made it personal, I don't have to.


That just made my day.
posted by whatnot at 10:49 AM on August 27, 2003


pardonyou?, too late for this thread, but in the future, reading the link before offering your "original" riposte might save a little embarrassment.

I did read the link. Pretty interesting interview, actually. I probably should have noted that my post was somewhat off topic. But I'm sorry to inform you that I'm not embarassed, so there's really nothing to "save."
posted by pardonyou? at 10:51 AM on August 27, 2003


Clinton came across as a burger munching skirt chaser from Arkansas, whereas Gore seemed more like a professor or your boss.

I don't know if I agree with this. You seem to be implying that Clinton came off as a dumb hick, while Gore left the impression of a stiff intellectual. Actually, I think the difference is charisma. I think Clinton is *far* smarter than Gore, and I think that comes across in seeing them speak. Clinton connects better with people, but I don't know how much of that comes from "regular joe-ness" as opposed to raw charisma and talent. Gore is smart, but frankly not particularly talented at connecting with people, and not particularly charismatic.

I don't think Bush has much of an appeal as a "regular joe" either, and I don't think he's long on charisma. Well, maybe that belongs in another discussion.

In short, Jon, I agree with your point about liberal attack radio. It could be done. It would totally target a different audience than the NPR crowd. I would probably listen to it, the same way I listen to Michael Savage - for entertainment purposes only.
posted by rocketman at 10:54 AM on August 27, 2003


I agree he's smarter, rocketman, but he didn't seem stiff, but with his taste for big-haired women, old classic rock and fatty food, he seemed more "regular guy" culturally speaking, whereas Gore didn't seem like someone you'd enjoy having a beer with.

And, again, I realize that these things shouldn't matter in election, but the truth is they do.
posted by jonmc at 10:58 AM on August 27, 2003


But I'm sorry to inform you that I'm not embarassed, so there's really nothing to "save."

Yeah, I phrased that too strongly. I got overly snarky because it just seemed like such a weak jab. But as you know, then, Franken already addressed it:
    Some journalists have accused you of lying, that by sending the letter you've lied in the same way as the people you write about. I don't know why, but people have been trying to put this in the same category as the other kinds of lies. No one who reads the book thinks I'm writing a book called "Savin' It." I think even in the context of receiving it it's clear what it is, which is a prank to these 27 people, but it's not like announcing to the public that I won something I didn't win, or that I'm going to fund education for people that I'm not going to fund, or that the vast majority of my tax cuts are going to the bottom, or that I was vigilant before 9/11, or that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Niger. Those are really lies; this is a totally different thing. It's a chapter in a satirical book which makes a satirical point.
posted by soyjoy at 11:01 AM on August 27, 2003


Jon, sorry for being snarky earlier. I'm having a weird day here.

I see what you mean. Quickly imagine a radio show hosted by Gore, then think of one hosted by Clinton. Which would you rather listen to?

Neither would be short on content, is my guess, but the Billy Clint would just be more fun to listen to. But he doesn't strike me as an "attack" host. He's just fun to listen to.
posted by rocketman at 11:05 AM on August 27, 2003


I didn't consider it snarky at all, just good conversation, man.

I also still can't forgive the Gore clan for the PMRC.
posted by jonmc at 11:08 AM on August 27, 2003


We got some local 'liberal talk radio' here in Chicago. And I think it's pretty damn good.
posted by sj at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2003


>Clinton came across as a burger munching skirt chaser from Arkansas, whereas Gore seemed more like a professor or your boss.

Oh come on now. Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar and everytime I read about him in print I was reminded of that fact. I know you like to play the "lowest common denominator everyman" card, but it just doesn't pan out in this case. Gore ran a very lousy campaign to the point where it seemed that both candidates stood for the exact same things. Look at the debates. Rule #1 of politics: do not be your opponent.

Also, Gore carried the baggage of an "environmentalist" which translates directly to "hippie weirdo Im not voting for" for a significant amount of americans, while real environmentalists were bitchy because his record wasn't so hot.

Back on topic: I just love how a mediorce writer and comedian like Franken is now in the national spotlight mainly because of Fox. Millions more people will be taking his book and POV more seriously because of the bullying. I guess that's to be expected, the ultra-nationalist pseudo-patriotic bullying tide that has replaced news (at least on cable and AM radio) is eventually self-defeating. Its just a matter of time before they get exposed for what they are, and by their own hand. (that's so freudian I'm not even going to comment)

I wonder if Fox will enjoy the ratings it has if Bush doesn't win 2004. Something tells me no.
posted by skallas at 11:14 AM on August 27, 2003


Oh come on now. Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar and everytime I read about him in print I was reminded of that fact. I know you like to play the "lowest common denominator everyman" card, but it just doesn't pan out in this case.

Absolutely. But he knew how to play to the cheap seats. I'm not playing any card. I'm just saying that these things matter.

Sadly, a lot of people may use left-wing politics as a way to show how smart they are or to be non-conformist. Believe me, I did it myself as a malcontent teenager. It can come across as exclusionary and clubbish. Never mind that [emphasis mine, to make things clear] the right is far more exclusionary in it's actual effect on people..

Rule #1 of politics: do not be your opponent.

Rule #2, do not show contempt for the masses, even if you have it. You need them to win elections.
posted by jonmc at 11:20 AM on August 27, 2003


or let me put it another way: maybe if Gore had portrayed Bush as a fat cat who wants to dumb your bosses toxic garbage in your backyard (which is a fair portayal, imho) he mighta recast the "enviornmentalist tag" in terms that resonated with people. See, it's all in how ya say it.

Actually, a certain amount of enviornmentalism has permeated mainstream society. My 80-year old, outer-borough immigrant landlady, was very emphatic that we separate out our recyclables. :)
posted by jonmc at 11:25 AM on August 27, 2003


I wonder if Fox will enjoy the ratings it has if Bush doesn't win 2004. Something tells me no.

Didn't they come to prominence in the first place during the Clinton years? If Bush loses, they'll be the opposition headquarters (and the right in this country, unlike the current left, has never shied from being the opposition).
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:27 AM on August 27, 2003


"They can dish it out, but they can't take it"

Shame! O'Reilly is not a true conservative or even a right-winger, he's a lone nutjob with views all over the place (for example, he is for nationalized health care). O'Reilly can't take it, yes. But the right is a different story. They've "taken" all kinds of shit from the left over the last few years. It's give and take. Remember the chains being dragged behind the pick-up with the Texas license plate? Yeah, the one the NAACP paid for in the 2000 election. You didn't see the right trying to strongarm anyone there. And the left can't take it either. Any criticism or charge is simply a part of a vast white-wing conspiracy (because all righties are evil white people). And when the left is in power, they just audit people. O'Reilly was audited twice during Clinton's administration, for example. But I guess the right should never fight back, because, after all, they are merely rich, evil, misogynistic, racist, homophobic capitalist pig-dogs. I'm so glad MetaFilter is here to show me the One True Way. I don't give a damn if either side plays dirty, it's already Freddy vs. Jason as far as I'm concerned.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:27 AM on August 27, 2003


Insomnyuk, take your medicine.
posted by notsnot at 11:32 AM on August 27, 2003


They've "taken" all kinds of shit from the left over the last few years. It's give and take. Remember the chains being dragged behind the pick-up with the Texas license plate? Yeah, the one the NAACP paid for in the 2000 election.

Interesting. Unfortunately, this rather shrill screed is all I could find on it. Never saw the spot myself.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:35 AM on August 27, 2003


Damn it, jon, if you reveal yourself to be left-of-center, that'll blow my chance to point to you as one of the MeFi conservatives I like and respect!

Oh, well. At least I still have UncleFes.
posted by Fenriss at 11:44 AM on August 27, 2003


You can see a similar attack-tendency in the way Bush broadly treats all reporters -- described here as an "oddly methodical, oversensitive, and aggressive response[] to minor, unimportant, or thoroughly imagined slights." Another source suggests that Bush "is compiling an enemies list of journalists that it intends to discredit" and compares the effort to Nixon during Watergate. (Neither of these sources are unbiased, though.) I think this instinct to make things personal and thoroughly crush people who don't agree with you seems particularly characteristic of Bush; not sure I agree it's symptomatic of conservatism.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:57 AM on August 27, 2003


Am I the only one who thinks that the very terms "right" and "left" are skewed well to the right these days? A person can be described as "left of center" merely for believing that there's such a thing as a public trust to be upheld; they can be called an environmentalist for supporting making polluters pay for their cleanup costs. As if cleaning up someone's toxic waste on the public dime is a Conservative idea. The far right defines the left as anyone to the left of them. But when you're driving on the sidewalk running over mailboxes and knocking doorknobs off of houses, pretty much everyone is to the left of you. Certainly all the sane people are.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:59 AM on August 27, 2003


conventional wisdom has it that liberals are too soft to do Limbaugh-style attack radio

[sarcasm] 'Cause, as we all know, liberals are congenitally incapable of being "mean-spirited." [/sarcasm]
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:09 PM on August 27, 2003


Insomnyuk, take your medicine
this is uncalled for.

Frankens flaw is his frankness in the guise of jocular hilarity based upon dead-pan frontman techniques.

other then that (adjusts glasses) he is a funny guy
posted by clavdivs at 12:16 PM on August 27, 2003


Remember the chains being dragged behind the pick-up with the Texas license plate? Yeah, the one the NAACP paid for in the 2000 election. You didn't see the right trying to strongarm anyone there

care to elaborate? I don't think I follow you
posted by matteo at 12:18 PM on August 27, 2003


I think Clinton would make a great radio talk-show host. Hell, talking is what he was put on this Earth to do.

This Isn’t War (Yet.)
The liberal power elite I hobnobbed with in Aspen seems terminally short on passion—with one tough-talking, very angry exception: Bill Clinton.

posted by gottabefunky at 12:24 PM on August 27, 2003


There's a write-up in this week's New Yorker. Sounds like Bill really did take it personally, and Fox is a bit smarter than events would indicate:

According to someone close to the situation, Fox executives were not at all in favor of suing, correctly anticipating a P.R. debacle. They told O’Reilly as much in a series of meetings, but he continued to lobby aggressively for bringing a suit, pressing his case with Roger Ailes, the Fox News chairman, and others. And so Fox enlisted its lawyers to cobble together a complaint.
posted by jalexei at 12:26 PM on August 27, 2003


A great liberal talk radio show: Tavis Smiley.
posted by josephtate at 12:28 PM on August 27, 2003


Am I the only one who thinks that the very terms "right" and "left" are skewed well to the right these days?

"Center" is a dynamic entity, most likely base on the powers that be. Since our current powers that be are further right than the median would probably dictate (if we could quantify that somehow) then yes, I think your assessment is correct, George. Same way if Dean wins in '04, the varying degrees of "left" and "right" will shift towards the west.

Both terms serve very little use in defining people or arguments though.
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:29 PM on August 27, 2003


Matteo: one of the paragraphs in this column should fill you in.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:36 PM on August 27, 2003


You didn't see the right trying to strongarm anyone there. And the left can't take it either. Any criticism or charge is simply a part of a vast white-wing conspiracy (because all righties are evil white people).

I thought the right-wing conspiracy thing was in reference the the infamous Drudge vs. Blumenthal case in which Drudge used an unknown and unconfirmed source to libel Blumenthal and managed to get away with it by having well-networked friends with very deep pockets threatening to turn the suit into a muckraking expedition through Blumenthal's entire life. Which just goes to show that in the game of civil lawsuits, he who has the most dollars usually wins. In that case, it certainly looked like there was a conspiracy to slander someone.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:43 PM on August 27, 2003


"Center" is a dynamic entity, most likely base on the powers that be.

Exactly. Perhaps it should not be. I think in countries that have more interaction with their neighbors, and more sheer political history (read: Europe), the terms have a more stable meaning that's not bound up in current trends.

Center, to me, is someone with a fair mix of ideas about public and private responsibility, none of them terribly extreme. I think this is consistent with a longer and broader view of the term. But these days, in the US, I think such a person is considered well to the left. Certainly if you lack an essentially religious conviction about market forces as the final arbiter of goodness, you're considered a leftist; when to me, and I think to the world as a whole, it just means you're not well to the right.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:58 PM on August 27, 2003


My 80-year old, outer-borough immigrant landlady, was very emphatic that we separate out our recyclables.

Do they fine those who do not recycle? They do in my town. Not that I need that motivation. I love my mother earth. I would imagine that it would be the property owner being fined, not the tenant.
posted by archimago at 12:59 PM on August 27, 2003


Am I the only one who thinks that the very terms "right" and "left" are skewed well to the right these days?

Great example of how the center drifts with the prevailing winds: the president that founded the EPA, that unilaterally imposed mandatory wage and price controls, that founded the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (now HHS)...Republican Richard Nixon. In those days the left was so far left that not only the center, but the right was "left" (as we see it today).

Of course, that was the high tide of liberalism, and it was followed by the ascent of Ronald Reagan to the national stage and the subsequent appearance of Bill Clinton in the Nixonian role of centrist opposition (and object of uncontrollable partisan hatred).

The cycles of history are a fascinating thing. Or things.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:59 PM on August 27, 2003


Wasn't it Nixon who started making promotion of energy and resource conservation a national policy? My grandparents and father-in-law who remember WWII remember quite well when making do with less was considered a patriotic duity for national security.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:06 PM on August 27, 2003


I would imagine that it would be the property owner being fined, not the tenant.

I am continually amazed at my tenants' ability to throw garbage in the recycle bin and recyclables in the garbage. The latter I can understand but the first is so patent a nobrainer that I am dumbfounded--my only guess is sheer physical laziness: the garbage dumpster has a metal lid and the recycle dumpster has plastic.

If I came to all my conclusions on race, class and human nature from the people I've rented to or met on the bus, I would make Harvey Pekar look like a New Age therapist.
posted by y2karl at 1:07 PM on August 27, 2003


I must correct myself. Nixon founded not HUD or HEW (now HSS). Sorry for the haste in posting.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:12 PM on August 27, 2003


When I'm angry, I want to take a few deep breaths and calm myself down, so I might not act in a way I'll later regret.

Hey, me too!!
posted by y2karl at 1:19 PM on August 27, 2003


Frankens idea of wit is nothing more than an incisive observation humorously phrased and delivered with impeccable timing.
posted by Dr_Octavius at 1:19 PM on August 27, 2003


So, anybody read the book?
posted by notsnot at 1:27 PM on August 27, 2003


So, anybody read the book?

I'm about two thirds through. My bullets thus far:

-Pretty informative
-Not as funny as Why Not Me?
-"Operation Chickenhawk" went on for too long
-The very honest retelling of his visit to Bob Jones University with intent to do mischief is a great bit of writing
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:31 PM on August 27, 2003


Al Franken makes me think of Ann Coulter doing Al Franken's comedy routines. Not a pretty picture.

"This is the Ann Coulter decade..."
posted by kablam at 1:34 PM on August 27, 2003


Tavis Smiley sucks. Unless you want to hear about race and race-related issues and race race race all day every day.
posted by xmutex at 1:58 PM on August 27, 2003


Seriously?
posted by soyjoy at 2:28 PM on August 27, 2003


Gore didn't seem like someone you'd enjoy having a beer with. And, again, I realize that these things shouldn't matter in election, but the truth is they do.

Statements like that perpetuate the problem. How many years is Bush going to get an easy ride based on a carefully constructed reputation for congeniality and affability? It kills me. The guy's Richard Nixon with a penchant for nicknames and absolutely no recognition of what it means to work for anything in your life. He has about as much claim to being "reg'lar folks" as the spawn of Maria Kennedy Shriver and Arnold Schwarzeneggar.

Besides, in a literal sense, however slim the chance someone would enjoy a beer with Al Gore, it's greater than the chance of knocking back one with President Clean and Sober. Please retire the "have a beer with" metric as a measurement of presidential suitability.
posted by rcade at 2:28 PM on August 27, 2003


"Center" is a dynamic entity, most likely base on the powers that be.

In times like this, 'center' (or 'centre') is actually 'partisanship pretending to be moderation just because moderation is what you have to pretend to represent'. Things are that polarised, it seems, as a result of the 2000 election.

Traditionally in modern political society, polarisation leads to parties claiming to be the 'true voice of moderation'; that diminishes, perhaps counter-intuitively, when there's more consensus and compromise. Because once one side realises that attack-dog tactics work, the other one has to respond or be torn to bits. The problem being that once one side wears the mask of being 'fair and balanced', the other side, in responding, can be dismissed as playing partisan politics or fighting unfairly. ('Commie!' 'Nazi')

Eventually, like playground fights, someone gets really hurt, and the game stops.

It's the prisoners' dilemma, almost.
posted by riviera at 2:45 PM on August 27, 2003


We'll obviously we can't have a "Center" in our binary party system. We'd need a viable third party to have something in the middle. As it is now you can only be on one side or the other.
posted by aaronscool at 3:27 PM on August 27, 2003


Statements like that perpetuate the problem. How many years is Bush going to get an easy ride based on a carefully constructed reputation for congeniality and affability?

I don't give him one.

He has about as much claim to being "reg'lar folks" as the spawn of Maria Kennedy Shriver and Arnold Schwarzeneggar.

No kidding, but he's decent at faking it.


Please retire the "have a beer with" metric as a measurement of presidential suitability.

It isn't and shouldn't be, but in a media saturated society, it's foolishly naive moralism, to pretend things like charisma don't matter. If someone comes across as arrogant or stiff or whatever, he's gonna give off a bad impression to a lotta people and that's going to be a drawback to getting him elected, is all I'm saying.

Not that candidates were going to start putting "Jonmc had a beer with me," in their ads anyways. :)
posted by jonmc at 3:39 PM on August 27, 2003


Oh come on now. Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar and everytime I read about him in print I was reminded of that fact.

plo chops?
posted by shadow45 at 3:40 PM on August 27, 2003


Earl Ofari Hutchinson does a thoughtful and provocative radio show that might be called liberal. But, alas, like Tavis Smiley, as xmutuex alluded to, he spends a great deal of time talking about race issues. And don't neglect Howard Stern when discussing alternatives to conservative talk radio.
posted by euphorb at 4:38 PM on August 27, 2003


>No kidding, but he's decent at faking it.

Heh, no way. I watched Bush go from nervous wannabe tough-guy Texan to holier-than-thou 'protector of the people' since day 1. Neither is personable, all his speeches are boring and he sounds and fidgets like an actor who might be shot at any moment if he messes up his lines.

I guess we could dissect the mind of the swing voter until the cows come home, but neither candidate in the 2000 election was worth squat personality-wise, one just happened to have the support of America's real royal family and at the time Prince Jeb was governing the only state that mattered. Friends in high places helps. Family entrenched in the highest places helps a lot.
posted by skallas at 5:09 PM on August 27, 2003


But, alas, like Tavis Smiley, as xmutuex alluded to, he spends a great deal of time talking about race issues.

You see, I don't have a problem with this. I have other beefs about Tavis but he can talk about race until the cows come home as far as I'm concerned. It's only an hour and it's usually interesting. Like, his week long special segment about the March On Washington has sure had its moments. And race matters. I was thinking when watching the retirement party scene in American Splendor, that--so many of Pekar's stories are idiomatic conversations between black co-workers, you know--that's the only place most of us white people have any real human interaction at all with black people: work. And there's your argument for affirmative action right there.

Now, I see black and white kids hanging out all the time now but I suspect that that usually requires the white kids being into hip hop. And that's a whole other topic.
posted by y2karl at 5:36 PM on August 27, 2003


Well said, riviera. It's easy to get caught either in the middle of the snipping and snapping or on the sidelines watching and forget that a valid middle ground exists somewhere out there. Unfortunately, the moments where the middle ground is being sought instead of being moved further away from seem to be coming less frequently and lasting for shorter periods of time.

As it is now you can only be on one side or the other.

If you say that because that's the way things seem right now, then I agree. If you say it from your point of view, then I find myself waving the bullshit flag. Either way, it's fairly depressing.
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:48 PM on August 27, 2003


I'm not really Allowed to comment on an interal affair of the Imperium, being an auslander and all, but it seems to me that one is defined by one's enemies. If the best one can do is Mr. O'Reilly, is one really worth one's time?

I mean, really.
posted by bonehead at 6:30 PM on August 27, 2003


And don't neglect Howard Stern when discussing alternatives to conservative talk radio.
this is making me wish i remembered the oh-so-sensitive response to the columbine massacre, which amounted to saying that rape is in some cases perfectly justifiable. i guess this is just a sign that liberalism can exclude the female viewpoint as surely as conservativism.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:05 PM on August 27, 2003


Where does the idea the Stern is liberal come from? He's first in line to give plo chops to Giuliani, he's never met a cop he didn't like, he thinks Rodney King got what was coming to him... wtf?!
posted by NortonDC at 7:43 PM on August 27, 2003


WTF is this plo chops business? I am out of the loop.
posted by xmutex at 8:42 PM on August 27, 2003


Seriously?
posted by bshort at 8:45 PM on August 27, 2003


This might help. This too.
posted by bshort at 8:48 PM on August 27, 2003


jonmc (meant to post this earlier, but posted it in the wrong thread after a very frustrating computer lockup, then left for a dinner outing): Kennedy was never what you'd called "regular folks." Did Nixon have that "common touch." Not just no, but hell no. I talked with my mother about Nixon's popularity. She said you just had to be there - it's inexplicable now.

(Long pause, gathers thoughts.) OK, they virtually tied in 1960. Also, JFK's popularity was not as high before his death as after it. But I think the whole regular folks thing is a social expectations thing - you gotta be born in a log cabin like Lincoln, say - that was been built up over time and is constantly reinforced by the media. Even Adlai Stevenson tried to play up his supposed Jeffersonian love of rurality and regular folksy-hood.

By contrast, JFK never did any such thing. He didn't seem to give the impression that he'd want to have a beer with you, much less that you'd want to have one with him. Maybe a scotch and water, but not a beer. But he made his way to the White House anyway.
posted by raysmj at 9:02 PM on August 27, 2003


Unfortunately, the moments where the middle ground is being sought instead of being moved further away from seem to be coming less frequently and lasting for shorter periods of time.

Too true, Ufez, and it must be really, really depressing and frustrating for anyone who thinks politics has the potential to do positive things -- coming from both left and right -- in the US. 2004 looks like it's going to be a bloody year, and not just metaphorically. The world will be watching.

By comparison, the rightward march of NewLabour in the UK, combined with the utter disillusionment generated by Iraq, has actually opened up some interesting cross-party dynamics. While the Tories still manage to come up with some really stupid ideas -- such as flogging off the BBC website -- you'll find genuinely smart, thoughtful people on the front bench such as Oliver Letwin (home affairs) and Liam Fox (health) putting forward ideas which make many traditional Labour voters stop and think: 'hang on, that's actually got more in common with what I support than the current government policy.' It's bizarre: the authoritarian wing of the Labour party (Jack Straw, David Blunkett) and the libertarian wing of the Tories are doing funny dances around each other.

Throw in the LibDems, and there seems to be much more room for centrist politics in Britain than in the US, even within a multi-party system which in actuality produces a two-party contest for government.
posted by riviera at 9:36 PM on August 27, 2003


Bravo - bravo for Al Franken - for no matter what you see no one - NO ONE - doing what he is doing, regardless of skewering judgements. I am talking big view. Fox suit! Alright!

And points for reading the Tipping Point ( Al )

Screw Bush and all his evil axes.
posted by RubberHen at 10:09 PM on August 27, 2003


I wonder if Fox will enjoy the ratings it has if Bush doesn't win 2004. Something tells me no.

They would immediately switch to the attack, I know it -- reassuring all: "Well what do we have we to fight for in 2008! Christian Soldiers Unite!"
posted by RubberHen at 10:13 PM on August 27, 2003


Where does the idea the Stern is liberal come from?

Nobody called Howard Stern a liberal. Is someone's view on the Rodney King trial a litmus test for liberalism now? He also thinks Mumia belongs in jail. He ran for governor as a libertarian, he's against the war on drugs and he's a free speech advocate. He's difficult to classify but whatever he is its pretty far from conservative.

this is making me wish i remembered the oh-so-sensitive response to the columbine massacre, which amounted to saying that rape is in some cases perfectly justifiable.

I hadn't heard about that incident you describe but it was pretty reprehensible. I'm not sure I would go so far as to say he was saying rape is justifiable.
posted by euphorb at 11:21 PM on August 27, 2003


Liberal Talk Radio has been around awhile. Owned by the U.A.W., they produce shows they sell to local stations and satelite radio. Not all their shows are political, but their top progressive host is Mike Malloy. Jonmc, you want pissed-off, you got it!

The other political host is Thom Hartmann, who calls himself the "radical middle". More intelectual, more calm.

Archives of both programs can be found here.
posted by Goofyy at 2:22 AM on August 28, 2003


It isn't and shouldn't be, but in a media saturated society, it's foolishly naive moralism, to pretend things like charisma don't matter.

What I'm talking about is faux populism, not charisma -- the pretense that President Bush is Joe Sixpack instead of Joseph Q. Patrician the Third. I'm reminded of how Bush compares his father going to prep school with his going to public school in Midland, Texas. What he doesn't tell people is that he's as much a product of prep school as "Poppy."
posted by rcade at 4:05 AM on August 28, 2003


He ran for governor as a libertarian, he's against the war on drugs and he's a free speech advocate. He's difficult to classify but whatever he is its pretty far from conservative.

Not to get too far offa topic here, but technically, on paper, doesn't conservatism=smaller government? And doesn't Libertarianism=minarchy? I'd hardly say conservatism is "pretty far" from libertarianism.
posted by glenwood at 5:56 AM on August 28, 2003


By contrast, JFK never did any such thing. He didn't seem to give the impression that he'd want to have a beer with you, much less that you'd want to have one with him. Maybe a scotch and water, but not a beer. But he made his way to the White House anyway.

Yes, but he was matinee idol handsome, and his family's trek upwards (the media version of it anyway) from East Boston to spectacular wealth, perfectly mirrored the aspirations of a lot of middle-class Americans of the time. Hell, I think my mom still wishes she was a Kennedy.

Plus the fact that he was Catholic-while a drawback to some voters-guaranteed him votes with others.

These things are factors, whether we like it or not.

What I'm talking about is faux populism, not charisma -- the pretense that President Bush is Joe Sixpack instead of Joseph Q. Patrician the Third.

If you read my comments, I'm more or less agreeing with you. But, if that's what it takes to get elected and get the policies we want enacted, then the left should play that game too. Nobody said politics was pretty.
posted by jonmc at 6:40 AM on August 28, 2003


I've been reading the book and the chapter on Wellstone is really really good. (and it made me cry.)
posted by jann at 7:10 AM on August 28, 2003


I don't think the left should play the game of faux populism, jonmc. They should be real populists.
posted by rcade at 8:21 AM on August 28, 2003


Al Franken is taking questions live here at the Washington Post site right now (Thurs, 1:45 pm EST).
posted by onlyconnect at 10:56 AM on August 28, 2003


There is a giant gap in ths discussion with regards to the question: how did it come to pass that, while early 20th century communism enlisted the rump of industrial workers around the world, now ( at least in the US ) lower classes tend to side ideologically with the very richest in US society?

What happened? ( 2,000 words or less )

Sorry for the discussion derail....
posted by troutfishing at 8:36 PM on August 28, 2003


Troufishing, as near as I can figure, it has to do with the left leaning towards liberalizing drug policy combined with Reagan's escalating it to a war. This provided the wedge to get the conservatives into the bible-thumping camp, which is the mechanism which served to convert the working classes. Certainly in the mid 70's, when I was singing in the Texas gospel circuit, the politics of that crowd was left in every way except for drugs (gay issues weren't even on the map yet).

The fundies got all organized and began infiltrating at the grassroots, giving them an increasingly public forum. As their voice grew, the "sheeple" effect kicked in, and the flock followed. This has doubtless been further fueled by anti-gay backlash.

Prior to this there was a cultural shift that I noticed with the rise of disco and its attendant expensive fashions (clothing and cocaine). This shift was away from individualistic trends of the 60's. I have a notion that the anti-war movement saw a youth culture out of control, not dominated by commercial enterprise. Eventually, around the time of Woodstock, this so-called "counter-culture" came mainstream, allowing the marketing folks to regain influence. (I've heard it said that the "flower power" thing was the invention of Madison Avenue). Next thing you know, the working-class jeans turned into designer jeans. From individualism to materialism.

Somewhere along this road there was also a shift in the perception of safety. The world came to be perceived as dangerous. No more freely hitch-hiking cross country, too dangerous! I've heard it said that this relates to a shift in youth street culture where previously the biker folks got along with the street youth, then that changed. I can't vouch for that from experience, I entered the culture after the alleged shift.

Of course, all along this time-line the television industry was maturing. More people plugged in to the tube being influenced who-knows-how. I spent most of my youth without TV, so I'm not intimate with how that changed.
posted by Goofyy at 1:54 AM on August 29, 2003


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